The Macalope Weekly Special Edition: Fools of the Year

Ah, April Fools’ Day—when the Web trips over itself in trying to be funny. Oh, silly Internet. Haven’t you heard that satire is dead?

It was beaten to death by the people listed below.

Yes, in the realm of technology tomfoolery of the past year, these ten are the unintentional kings. Buckle up, because their “analysis” of Apple is far wackier than anything the current state of joke technology is capable of coming up with. In honor of April Fool’s Day, here are the most foolish things uttered in the past year, along with the 10 people foolish enough to say them in public.

10. Retrevo

It’s almost cute to write something spurious about Apple when your motives are as transparent as Retrevo’s. In order to gin up hits to its shopping site, the company first surveyed its visitors and got them to say netbooks rule while MacBooks drool. It then published the results as if they were somehow representative of the overall market—which they’re not. That apparently worked so well that it tried the same thing with the iPad. The Macalope’s only question to Retrevo: “Do you think angry Apple fans clicking through to your site are actually going to buy anything?”

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9. PCWorld’s Bill Snyder

There must be some kind of competition going on over at PCWorld and InfoWorld to see who can write the most inflammatory thing about the iPad based on the least amount of information. Snyder turned in a bronze-level performance with his January piece titled Apple Tablet Won’t Mean Business, in which he discounts the utility of any tablet device and gets the price of iPad off by a factor of two. His prize for coming in third was a limited supply of Jerk-A-Roni.

8. InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman

Gruman walked away with the silver by writing Only a fool would pre-order an iPad. He received some fabulous steak knives by deriding all of us who pre-ordered an iPad and declaring the pre-order launch a fizzle because “there was no line” at the Apple Store. That’s right, the physical Apple Store where you couldn’t actually pre-order an iPad. But it’s all OK because Gruman parenthetically notes that he knows you couldn’t pre-order one there. Er… what was your point again, Galen?

7. PCWorld’s Michael Scalisi

Writing a negative review of an Apple product is no big deal. People have been doing it since before the floppy drive. But writing one about a device Apple hadn’t even announced yet and wouldn’t ship for another eight months? That takes a seriously distorted view of your own importance, which is what Scalisi demonstrated when he wrote the PCWorld/InfoWorld Applebaiting Contest Gold Medal-winning Rumored Apple Tablet Is a Train Wreck in July of 2009. Scalisi, not surprisingly, gets any number of things wrong about the actual iPad because, you know, he wrote the article in July. Congratulations on winning that lovely dinette set, Michael!

6. Randall Kennedy

If InfoWorld had asked Apple fans, they could have told them about the loose connection with reality exhibited in Kennedy’s writing months before he was fired for posing as a fictional person in interviews with another publication. (This, of course, sadly disqualified him from what would have been a gold-medal performance the PCWorld/InfoWorld contest. Such are the wages of deceit, kids!)

For example, he seemed not to know who still owns the market for desktop operating systems and where they generally get their ideas. He also thought there was nothing wrong with writing a review of a product that hadn’t been announced yet and thought the iPad would somehow boost netbook sales.

Justice was eventually served, but for the Macalope it’s kind of like getting Capone on tax evasion.

5. Ira Winkler

It’s one thing to throw your own personal hissy fit about Apple, but it’s another entirely to try to get the Feds in on it. Computerworld’s Ira Winkler found Apple’s claims about security so outlandish that he thought the FTC should investigate them. No, really. He suggested that. Not only that, he seemed to be under the impression that Macs, just like PCs, are “frequent victims of viruses and other attacks.”

Anybody know what he’s talking about? The Macalope doesn’t either.

This is probably a good time to point out that this is all true. That might be confusing since it is April 1st, but everything in this article is 100 percent true, as hard as it is to believe. Well, except for the thing about Gruman winning steak knives.

(It was actually an outdoor grill.)

4. 24/7 Wall Street’s Douglas A. McIntyre

Oftentimes the worst Apple coverage seems to come from the geniuses who purport to understand Wall Street. It’s no wonder we’re in the financial mess we’re in with this brain trust telling people what to invest in.

Last summer McIntyre created a fanciful scenario where everyone who bought an iPhone paid for it with credit and then never paid off their credit cards, thus allowing him to suggest the iPhone 3GS would cause a new recession. Seriously. Later in the year he claimed the Apple board was paid “to do nothing” and just this week displayed his deep understanding of economics by suggesting that demand for iPads is so high Apple may have to cut prices (tip o’ the antlers to Daring Fireball).

Do people really read 24/7 Wall Street for business insight? Or do they have a killer sudoku or something?

3. Joe Wilcox

Wilcox’s most cringe-inducing analysis of the year was when he failed to take into account Apple’s deferred revenue accounting when proclaiming Apple’s cell phone business was not more profitable than Nokia’s as others had said. After having his metaphorical butt handed to him, Wilcox said he knew about it all along and deliberately didn’t take it into account because, well, just because, OK?

Unfortunately for Wilcox, that was just his most cringe-inducing analysis. Far more cringe-inducing was his bravado-laden challenge to a recuperating Steve Jobs to return to work in full capacity. (Disclaimer: the Macalope doesn’t sanction the linked diatribe about Wilcox’s post, it was just the only place he could find it quoted at length.) Wilcox himself apparently decided the post was too jacktastic and has since summarily deleted it.

2. Rob Enderle

The Macalope hears what you’re saying: “Only number 2?! FRAUD! RECOUNT! Call in Jimmy Carter!”

Well, remember that this list covers just the last year. And Rob already has a lifetime achievement award in reality-bending pronouncements about Apple. Showing up at No. 2 is just a sign of his continual staying power.

In fairness to Rob, he wasn’t the only one who wrongly predicted Apple wouldn’t make any iPhone or hardware announcements at last summer’s WWDC, but he was the only one who said the bad juju around the Joojoo would “sour the well for the Apple tablet”, as if your average consumer had ever heard of the Joojoo (besides the 90 people who apparently pre-ordered one). He was probably also the only person above the “Comment here:” line this year to compare Apple to Nazi Germany:

Two good lessons here, even when you are on top it is very foolish to under estimate a competitor with Microsoft’s resources because they can actually get it right, and picking too many fights at once can take out the most powerful of entities just as it took out a nearly unbeatable Germany in the second world war.

Nice.

More recently Rob has been caught pimping Dell’s products to naive journalists in the guise of unbiased analysis and, when confronted, said he didn’t see anything wrong with not revealing who’s leaving the money on his nightstand for… er, whatever it is exactly he does for them.

The Macalope’s not sure he wants to know.

1. TheStreet’s Scott Moritz

Congratulations, Scott Moritz! You’re this year’s King of the Fools!

Moritz’s bona fides as a carefree link-bait machine are well-documented and he continued to build on his solid track record of jackassery over the past year.

In November, Moritz advised not to bet on Apple’s tablet, grimly wondering why Apple “keeps pushing back the launch date.” The launch date for the device it hadn’t announced yet. Someone’s been reading too much Apple fan fiction.

The crowning jewel of Moritz’s insightful work this year came early last month when he advised investors to dump Apple’s stock while it was below 200. As of this writing, it’s trading above 235. Timing on Wall Street is everything, Scott. And yours stinks. In fact, it stinks like your boss’s.

Not content to leave it at that, Moritz leaned into the finish-line tape just the other day by going on TheStreet TV and predicting that so many iPads would get stolen immediately after they were bought that “the rich kids and trendy types” who’d bought them would create “a second wave” of iPad purchases.

“Rich kids and trendy types”?! Ouch! Those would be fightin’ words if you had a shred of credibility, Scott!

But, ha-ha, ahhh… you don’t.

Fool me—you can't get fooled again

Truth be told, there are way more than just these 10. The Macalope didn’t mean to slight anyone, but such is the format as David Letterman laid it down in law back in 1982 and who’s the horny one to defy holy scripture? So, if you’re someone who’s written something intensely stupid about Apple in the past year and your name is not on this list, please, please don’t think we didn’t notice your effort. Jerk.

(Disclosure: the Macalope holds an insignificant number of Apple shares.)

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